Current Episodes

Take a Deep Breath

Doctor-Who-Deep-BreathI had no particular expectations about Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, because the actor and the character so often have little in common. I mean, take David Tennant adopted a different accent and before Who his hair wasn’t so flamboyantly coiffured. I wanted to take the new Doctor as something of a blank slate.

Deep Breath offered an unexpected experience in that respect, as I found myself genuinely struggling to understand anything Capaldi said for the first 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe I’m just getting old and decrepit or something. I’m ready to consider that the failings of age might go some way to providing explanation. Perhaps my problem is a combination of Capaldi’s accent and the incidental music?

I definitely got the ‘jump on’ vibe – the sense of revisiting some basic principles just for the benefit of new viewers. At the same time, the script and plot contained plenty of elements suitable for fans – both of the Classic Who period and the 21st century rebirth. The Clockwork Robots were obviously not simply a nod, but an out-and-out connection to the much-loved episode, The Girl in the Fireplace.

I found the difficulty suffered by Clara in taking onboard the regeneration a struggle to empathise with. No one seems to have gone through this much trauma before – even Peri, who in waking to find the Doctor regenerating into Colin Baker was promptly set upon and strangled. She adjusted remarkably well.

Deep Breath has a slight feel of The Christmas Invasion, with The Doctor taking to bed, recovering from his regeneration. Capaldi harnesses the bewilderment common in so many post-regeneration Doctors, new and old.

I like Strax, though he undoubtedly must have a Jar-Jar/Marmite-style following amongst viewers. Sometimes, the humour hits the mark; other times, you have to wonder why Moffat has singled the Sontaran out for ridicule… I mean, they’re already a race of short, potato-headed clones. Do they need more piss taken out of them?

In some respect, now that I think about it, the fight between The Doctor and the Almost Man was rather similar to the sword fight between Tennant and the Sycorax Leader in The Christmas Invasion. The combatants battle close to the edge of the abyss and we have genuine doubts as to whether the Time Lord has it in him to not only win the fight, but also to put an end to the threat. Both adversaries spiralling to the ground… well, if anyone labels The Doctor out as cold for this act, it begs comparison with Tennant as setting the precedent.

I’m ready to continue watching and see how this pans out. Moffat has piqued my interest with Missy, as I’m certain it’s meant. I’m thinking something to do with River and her Virtual Tomb in the Library.

The Crack with the Spiders

DOCTOR WHO: THE WHISPERING GALLERY B

Photo credit: Ben Templesmith

Someone asked me, “So , what’s the crack with the spiders in the last episode?”

I considered this for a moment and then decided I couldn’t see any relevance to the spiders. Nothing pivotal or surprising.

I thought the theme of this half of the series ran along the lines of ‘People live and die; but the Doctor goes on.‘ The Doctor has his own adventures. He accrues companions as and when he needs them. Without specifically referencing the novels, things happen when we, the viewer, don’t watch. And, even when we the reader don’t read.

Much as Sarah Jane established in “School Reunion“, and Rose after her – the Doctor touches people’s lives, but they continue without him. Sometimes, they remain ‘touched’ by his absence and it affects the way they continue to exist. Oswyn has been ‘touched’ before she even got started; as a species, the Daleks have experienced an irrevocable change, and many have been scarred beyond assistance or repair. The Doctor, the Predator, the Oncoming Storm – the Last of the Timelords – he strikes the universe like a smooth, flat stone, and the ripples continue long after his departure.

I’m not sure the spider had any relevance beyond being a clue that the spaceship (with the dinosaurs on) wasn’t just a spaceship. It was an ark, from Earth (and, perhaps, a nod to original episode The Ark in Space, from the classic 12th season). I’m not suggesting the Silurians intentionally included spiders amongst the species carried away from Earth, but like any ship you can’t avoid some vermin and insects. I responded as much to my friends you asked the question, but I suppose I can’t completely cast aside the thought they might mean more than that.

Even as a viewer, the Doctor’s ripples impact me.

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All the Daleks Here Now

The New Paradigm Dalek

The New Dalek Paradigm

I did sort of hope that all the Daleks would have made more of an appearance in the ‘Asylum’, after all the hoo-haa about getting hold of older models. Indeed, I didn’t feel we saw enough older Daleks – of which plenty must exist amongst promotional groups. How many conventions have you visited on the geek circuit to find a Doctor Who look-a-like, TARDIS and one Dalek or another, generally of the old grey or black variety? Why couldn’t they use some of those, especially when the Doctor ventured into Intensive Care. Surely, all those Daleks should have conformed to the pre-golden format.

Personally, I got excited about the presence of the Special Weapons Dalek in the trailer. Admittedly, when it appeared originally – in “Remembrance of the Daleks” – it had very little screen time in action; the ‘Asylum’ seemed to effectively relegate to the status of scenery. I guess that they didn’t have the inclination to sort the innards out or something – refurbishing the tricycle or whatever. Maybe the Health & Safety standards associated with people working inside Daleks have become tougher – and the BBC didn’t want to dish out for the upgrade. In the old days, you could stick a couple of trolley wheels on the edges and tell the guy to get on with it. Now, they probably want remote controls, mini-bar facilities, breaks… the whole Savoy treatment.

I’m shocked that so little investment seems to have been even made in the use of the iDaleks from ‘Victory of the Daleks‘. Didn’t Moffat intend for the new purebreed Daleks to become the standard for his tenure? Using the RTD golden Dalek model just seems a little bit lazy.

“We spent all this money making the golden Dalek model for Season 1 of New Who – and I don’t think we’ve quite got our monies worth yet. Hey, let’s wheel out the gold ones and have a few of the iDaleks in the backdrop. Maybe let the white iDalek speak a bit, for diversity reasons.”

I felt that the CGI wide shots could have done more to include older models – would it have harmed anyone in the least to have added a few classic Daleks in the ‘big picture’ view?

I’m sure they do have a genuine excuse – maybe the Terry Nation Estate agreement doesn’t extend to the older models? Maybe I should have watched whatever Confidential episode might have followed the episode (did they do one? I didn’t check… Have they dropped those, too?).

I do some research and get back to this subject…

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Let’s Kill Hitler

Personally, I loved it. I loved the setting. I loved the sets. I loved the characters, including Mel. I loved the man-ship full of little people. I especially loved the people on Twitter who seemed upset about the throwaway use of Hitler and the retconned appearance of Mel.

I mean, what?

All of River Song’s history has had to be retconned into the series – she’s a character who knows the less about the Doctor the more he gets to know her. How was she ever going to be anything other than a bit on the retconned side of things? You couldn’t expect someone to have thought about the possibilities and mapped out the character in advance. Get too carried away with that and you would have tainted the series that came before, because they’d be full of inexplicable red herrings that you couldn’t quite account for and wouldn’t appreciate until later on.

Isn’t it enough to feature the first appearance of River’s Diary. And the throwaway comment about Temporal Grace for the fan-boys out there who always need a little bit more attention.

And Hitler? Honestly… in the series that last year included Churchill and the Daleks, do you seriously imagine that Hitler in a cupboard will be an end to this? Hitler did have an angle on mysticism and ancient relics of unimaginable power – and Churchill had a hankering to acquire the Doctor’s TARDIS for the good of Great Britain (and, no doubt, mankind).

So, stop whining and luxuriate in the moment. Mel regenerating into River Song. River coming to terms with her curves. A little nod to David T. in the clattering and muttering about the change in teeth. Crop circles in Leadworth. Classic German motorbikes. The return of that Big Hall in Cardiff that they seem to do everything in from Pompeii to Void Ships to meetings with Silurian elders and more besides. Could you really rattle on and bemoan the fact that you can’t quite account for something or it didn’t seem right when you have no clue quite where Moffat’s current intentions with the story arc lay?

Dear, dear me…